We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. You can start listening right away by clicking the podcast icon over on the right side of your screen. If you’d rather grab the show off itunes for later listening, click here:
We open today’s show with a guest post from Jim Casada, a son of the N. C. Smokies, who has written or edited more than 50 books. In this selection from his ‘Jim Casada Outdoors’ newsletter, he describes the traditional harvest time preparation of ‘leather britches’ (dried green beans) and the gathering in of winter squashes and corn. “The corn would be pulled, ear by ear, from stalks and stored in a crib for future use. Of course some of it might have been used for roastin’ ears or soup mix during the brief period when the corn was tender, or in the milk as my Grandpa Joe used to put it.”
We’ll pause in between things to catch up on a Calendar of Events in the region this week, with special attention paid to events that emphasize heritage and local color.
Jonathan Hager, Sr. was a wealthy landowner in western Maryland by the early 1770s, and had already established the Washington County town that bears his name today. By this time both his children were grown, and he was in the process of transferring a quantity of his land holdings to his daughter and her husband. “The first time that Daniel Hiester, Jr., and his wife visited her father at Hagerstown, Mr. Hager invited them both to ride over the land with him,” says an 1895 history of Hager and his descendants. “Mr. Hiester went with his father-in-law to see the land which was to be given to himself and wife. Mr. Hager took pains to point out the quality of the land which he intended to give.” But ten days later, before he had the chance to sign any official land transfer papers, Jonathan Hager was killed in a freak accident. A nasty family fight broke out.
“The tall, white house on the high green hill, looking down on the sleepy little town, was the home of my childhood,” says North Georgia native Viola Brown Black (1901-1981). In her poem ‘Home,’ presented here in its entirety, she guides us on an elegiac walk through the Hiawasee, GA house that ‘protected us from without, watched over us within.’
Next, guest blogger Shea Daniels, a Creative Writing major at Ohio University through the Appalachian Scholars Program, weighs in with her reactions to that school’s Appalachian Heritage Day. “I’ve been told that I don’t look like a hillbilly a couple of times during the past year, usually when I mention that I work with Future Women of Appalachia [a campus group],” she says. “I mean, really. What does a hillbilly look like? Should we don straw cowgirl hats and get muddy boots? While I’m unsure what the stereotypical hillbilly actually is, I know that it’s an outdated image that does nothing good for modern Appalachia.” As one of the co-founders of Future Women of Appalachia, Daniels is doing her part to help change that image.
We’ll wrap things up with an oral history from Ireland Everett Layne, who was born 1919 in Coon Creek, KY. In this segment, he talks about harvest time on the hilly 80-acre family farm. “Pa was a great hand to set out fruit trees, so naturally he had an apple orchard,” Layne says. “When apples were ripe, they would peel a couple of bushels at night by kerosene lamplight, then they would work them up the next day.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Wayne Erbsen and Bucky Hanks in a 1993 recording of “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?” on Asheville’s WCQS.
So, call your old blue-tick hound up on the porch, fire up your corn-cob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.